Here's What To Watch When Jeff Sessions Testifies Before The Senate Today

Elias Hubbard
June 14, 2017

Rosenstein was testifying hours ahead of a separate Senate appearance by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was expected to face sharp questions from his former colleagues about his role in Comey's firing, his Russian contacts during the campaign and his decision to step aside from the investigation involving Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of OR aggressively asked Sessions about suggestions arising from Comey's testimony last week that there was something "problematic" about his recusal. Senate Democrats have been champing at the bit for more than a month now to get an answer to what exactly Sessions meant when he said he was recusing himself. "It's one more obstacle that this administration and DoJ have to overcome". Sources told CNN last week that the attorney general offered to resign after a series of heated exchanges with the President over his decision to recuse himself from the Russian Federation probe.

The attorney general "believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him and looks forward to answering the committee's questions tomorrow", Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement Monday.

The tool covers discussions with the president, Bahar noted, and could be used to protect discussions of Comey's firing and questions about the President's request to Comey to drop the Flynn investigation. But, because Sessions has recused himself, the question could easily fall to Rosenstein. "Second, what safeguards are there now so that he doesn't interfere? How does that fit" with recusal? he asked.

Sessions maintained that he had not been briefed on the Russian Federation investigation between the time of his February swearing-in and his March 2 recusal.

"My sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving, which is why he was lingering", Comey said last week.

Later in the hearing, Shaheen brought up reports that Trump may try to force the removal of Robert Mueller, the special counsel now heading up the Russian Federation probe. "We also were aware of facts that I can't discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic", Comey said. Comey declined to provide details during the public hearing.

It comes as political intrigue pulses through the United States capital following explosive testimony by Comey before the same panel last week, and as Trump has expressed frustrations with Sessions, one of his earliest high-profile campaign backers.

Attorneys general of the past did not shy away from this committee's questions, regardless of the topic, regardless of the party. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Friday in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

"I am not sure he is the best performer under questioning from fellow senators".

In addition to clarifying his role in Comey's firing, lawmakers will want Sessions to recount what he remembers of a February 14 meeting in the Oval Office, during which Comey said the attorney general and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner were asked to leave the room so the president could speak with his Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

This hearing takes place less than a week after Comey delivered his explosive testimony during which he claimed that Trump asked him to let go of the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. "And when asked I said that to the president". He is a good guy.

Sessions will appear before the Senate intelligence committee on June 13 at 2:30 p.m.

Does he remember Comey telling him that he did not want to be left alone with Trump again? I want to know how he believes he can credibly lead the Justice Department for which he has requested $28.3 billion amid such distressing questions about his actions and his integrity. There will also be queries about the shifting explanations for Comey's firing.

There are lots of questions for Sessions.

Sessions "abruptly canceled" his appearance before the committee, as well as a scheduled appearance before the House appropriations Committee, over the weekend, according to Leahy and Sen. Now, he is sending Rosenstein, his deputy, to those hearings instead.

The Intelligence Committee is one of several congressional panels looking into the Russian Federation issue, alongside Mueller's probe. He's been ramping up the department's focus on prosecuting crime and drug use and emphasizing support for police across the country over allegations of police abuses.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News prior to the senators' announcement, a Department of Justice spokesperson said Sessions requested his appearance be public. Comey's decision to announce previous year that Clinton would not be prosecuted over her emails was a "usurpation" of the Justice Department's authority, Sessions said.

And then an ally of President Donald Trump suggested the president is thinking about firing the special counsel investigating the Russian Federation issue.

Invoking of executive privilege for administration employees is typically formally announced by the attorney general, but it's not exactly clear who would make the formal announcement for Sessions, said Michael Bahar, former Democratic staff director for the House intelligence committee and former White House lawyer.

Sessions is likely to be asked about his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and whether there were more encounters that should have been made public.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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